Preserving Brownhelm Cemetery


Brownhelm Historical Association's Cemetery Preservation Committee is working to restore the historical headstones in the Brownhelm Cemetery. Historical Brownhelm Cemetery, located at North Ridge and Sunnyside roads, is the resting place of early settlers and prominent residents of the area.

Dirty, broken, cracked and toppled headstones are being repaired by volunteers trained through preservation workshops. Workshops were held at the Brownhelm Cemetery led by Mark Morton of Gravestone Guardians of Ohio. Participants came from near and far to take part in this important workshop to learn how to properly and safely restore headstones. Dozens of volunteers learned how to properly clean, repair, and reset gravestones without causing further damage. Volunteers of all ages are participating in preserving the history of Brownhelm Township.

While some of the headstones simply need cleaned due to years of weathering and neglect, others require new concrete bases or need to be pieced back together. Special cleaning solutions are used to scrub the headstones, cleaning out each letter in order to make it readable again.

Brownhelm Historical Association volunteers also host the annual “If Tombstones Could Talk” Cemetery Walk. Visitors can walk back in time and meet some of Brownhelm’s earliest pioneers and residents buried at the cemetery. Costumed reenactors share their life stories in a program that brings history to life.

Early settlers and prominent residents of the area buried at the cemetery include:

  • Col. Henry Brown, a New Englander, was among the first pioneers who settled the area. The township was named after him. He was a successful businessman and civic leader. Brown helped found Oberlin College and was instrumental in the development of Case Western Reserve University.
  • Hannah James was the second wife of Ezekiel Goodrich, a well-known cabinetmaker. The couple had several children. They divorced in 1837, an act unheard of during the times.
  • George Bacon Sr., at the age of 17 years old, dumped tea into the Boston Harbor during the Revolutionary War-era incident known as the Boston Tea Party. He lived to be 85 years old.
  • Grandison Fairchild was the father of James H. Fairchild, third president of Oberlin College who was an abolitionist and took part of the 1858 Oberlin-Wellington Slave Rescue of the fugitive slave John Price. His sister, Harriet Fairchild Alverson, taught the first school in Brownhelm in her own home in 1819. Grandison was the first teacher in the first schoolhouse built next to his sister's home. He lived to be 98 years old.
  • Amanda Church Bacon was the wife of William S. Bacon, the grandson of Benjamin Bacon, one of the area's most famous pioneer settlers. He was justice of the peace, county commissioner, and owner of Bacon’s Mills. Her mother, Anna Bacon, was Benjamin Bacon’s third wife.

The Brownhelm Historical Association works to preserve the rich history of Brownhelm, Ohio. The mission of the Brownhelm Historical Association is to honor Brownhelm’s rich heritage by collecting, preserving, and interpreting the history of its people and the area. The Brownhelm Historical Association currently maintains three historic sites and organizes a variety of community events throughout the year.

The Brownhelm Historical Association holds meetings the first Wednesday of each month beginning in February, March, April, May and June; off July and August; resume September, October, November, and December. Meetings are held either at the Carriage Barn in Mill Hollow or at the Historic Brownhelm School and Museum on North Ridge Road. Note: the December Christmas Meeting is held at the Brownhelm Heritage Museum (formerly the German Evangelical and Reformed Church) at 1355 Claus Road, Vermilion. Doors open at 6:15 pm for those who wish to attend the business meeting from 6:30-7 pm. Those wishing to only attend the program should arrive between 7-7:15 pm for refreshments and socializing. Programs start at 7:30 pm.

For more information, visit www.brownhelm.org.